The Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), the result of lengthy negotiations under the umbrella of the WTO, seeks to expedite the movement, release and clearance of goods across borders by improving transparency and predictability of trading across borders and creating a less discriminatory business environment. 110 members of the WTO were required to ratify the agreement for it to enter into force. With the ratification by Rwanda, Oman and Jordan, this threshold has been met early 2017 and the implementation can begin.
The TFA’s provisions include improvements to the availability and publication of information about cross-border procedures and practices, improved appeal rights for traders, reduced fees and formalities connected with the import/export of goods, faster clearance procedures and enhanced conditions for freedom of transit for goods. The Agreement also contains measures for effective cooperation between customs and other authorities on trade facilitation and customs compliance issues.
it is important to note that the TFA does not aim to replace bilateral/multilateral Free Trade Agreements. Those will continue remaining in place and being applicable. Nevertheless, significant non-tariff barriers and operational hurdles impacting the price calculation and shipment timelines are targeted and envisaged to decrease by the proposed measures.
We all know the devil lies in the details and as such, eagerly keep an eye for specific actions along the implementation roadmap of the TFA. Will a race to be the fastest or the best begin? Let us see, test and experience with care.